WASHINGTON -- After retiring 16 consecutive Cincinnati Reds on Saturday, Washington Nationals starter and former Shaw standout Edwin Jackson suddenly took a walk on his wild side, opening the eighth inning with a four-pitch walk.
That made Nationals manager Davey Johnson jittery. So he called down to the bullpen to have All-Star setup man Tyler Clippard warm up, and sent pitching coach Steve McCatty to the mound. Let's listen to McCatty describe his exchange with Jackson:
"Like 'Full Metal Jacket.' I went and asked him: 'How are you doing?' He says: 'I'm fine.' I say: 'Well, do you want this?' He goes: 'Yes.' I said: 'Well, if you want it, you tell me you want it.' And he said: 'I want it,' just like that, and I felt like that drill sergeant."
And that, essentially, was that. McCatty returned to the dugout, and Jackson returned to dominating the Reds, finishing the eighth by striking out the next three batters, and tacking on the flourish of a 1-2-3 ninth. Efficient, effective and powering fastballs in the mid-90s mph all afternoon, Jackson threw a two-hitter for his fifth career complete game, helping Washington stretch its winning streak to five by beating Cincinnati 4-1.
As the elder statesman of a starting staff that includes Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann and Sunday's starter against the Reds, Ross Detwiler, the 28-year-old Jackson ran the rotation's numbers to two runs over the past 35 innings, an ERA of 0.51.
"No one wants to be the weakest link. And when you have a staff like that, to where it's competitive but it's fun, it's always great," said Jackson (1-0), who threw a 149-pitch no-hitter with eight walks for Arizona in 2010, but needed only 92 pitches Saturday. "These guys, they put pressure on me today."
Said Strasburg, whose next turn is Monday: "We've got a great chemistry in the rotation. Every single one of these guys has unbelievable ability."
Other than a rocky second inning -- when he hit a batter, gave up a double to Miguel Cairo and an RBI single to Drew Stubbs -- Jackson threw, in Johnson's word, "a gem."
Jackson struck out nine, including six of the last eight Reds.
"I even asked the umpire one time, 'Man, are we that bad or is he that good?' And he said, 'Hey, he was that good,"' said Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker, whose team has lost five of its past six games, scoring a total of 10 runs in that span.
Jackson's last complete game came July 16, 2011, for the Chicago White Sox against Detroit. He finished last season with the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals, then signed a one-year free-agent deal with Washington.